Jul 28 2009

Splitting Homebrew Batches Part 1 – Bourbon Oak Barleywine

My latest homebrewing MO is to split and play around WITHIN batches as much as possible. 

The latest one is my American barleywine that just turned 7 months old.  It dropped from a 1.110 down to a 1.023 and finished at an 11.6 ABV.  I bottled ~4 gallons of that batch with oxygen absorbing caps, and then waxed the tops to let them age gracefully.

 Wax Top

The last gallon I racked onto a ½ ounce of American oak cubes that I steamed and then marinated in Blanton’s bourbon for almost 12 months.  (I can’t say that leaving them on the bourbon that long actually does anything extra special.  It just sounds cool.)  I’m going to age that for a few weeks and then bottle that last gallon.

bourbon barley

I imagine that it will taste nothing like it, but this is somewhat inspired by Lost Abbey’s Angel Share.  What I tasted of the flat barleywine that I bottled, it was slightly sweet with lots of dark fruit flavor and only a slight alcohol warming.  The hoppiness is fading quickly, and the bitterness is softening.  I’m curious to see what the oak and the residual bourbon does to this brew.

I still have some blue wax that can use to bottle the last gallon, as well, but I’ll have to drop a yellow crayon or something into the wax to make those look a little different.

At the end of the year, I can try one of each and compare and contrast. 

Looking to the future, I’m planning to brew my yearly saison this weekend, but I will split that one at least two ways.  The control part will be a standard dry and spicy saison.  Into the remaining beer I will pitch brettanomyces after primary fermentation.  For that I have a tube of White Labs WLP650 brettanomyces bruxellensis, but I might try to also culture up another strain of “wild” yeast from a commercial bottle for a third segment.

After that, I’ve got 10 pounds of cherries that might go into some big, Belgian ales.

Those will all be future posts.


Apr 21 2009

Quick Review: New Holland Golden Cap Saison

Occasionally, I’ll try to throw out a review of a beer I’ve had on draft, or while out and about. Sure, I’m a dork and take notes while I’m trying a beer, but it is harder to do so if you are out with the family or a couple of sheets into a long night. These will be quick reviews.

I found this one on draft at Timberwood last weekend. I was sitting down to an enchilada plate and had prepared to order an IPA to go with it, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try this one despite the fact that a saison was not all that complimentary to the meal.

The New Holland Golden Cap Saison poured a golden amber with a medium white head. The aroma was made up of soft notes of coriander and spice. The first sip was lemon and more coriander with a touch of honey. The body was on the thin side, but that is to style and it made this one even more drinkable. The dry finish left me wanting more.

A very nice sessionable saison. Well, a much as you can session a 7% beer. This is just as nice a summer sipper as Bell’s Oberon. That is very high, although calendar specific, praise.

I’m impressed, and I’m psyched to get my saison brewing later this spring.


Apr 16 2009

Brainstorming the Next Few Homebrew Batches

I’m scheming the next two batches, and I’m circling around a hoppy IPA and sour ale.

IPAs used to live in my wheelhouse. That was the one style I could nail all the time and every time. But the last two I’ve made just haven’t lived up to my expectations. That shit needs to change right freaking now.

This IPA is will be a hoppy affair. Hoptimization at its best. Jamil recently a did show where they were cloning Green Flash’s West Coast IPA. I’m looking that over and I might riff off that and make something along those lines. Maybe tweak the color a little. Maybe lead a bit more with simcoe.

Sour ales take forever to mature (I feel a name coming out of that. Maybe a Peter Pan reference….), so I just need to get that going so I can leave it alone and let it age. I’m thinking about a big sour like a Flanders Brown/oud bruin and then aging it on French wood that has been soaked in a darker wine. This is a good time to be thinking about it, too, since Wyeast is busting out the Brett strains from April to June. They are releasing Roeselare (the Godzilla of brettanomyces), their Trappist blend (an Orval strain) and the brettanomyces claussenii (low-intensity brett. character cultured from English stock ales.)

After that……I’m not sure. Definitely a saison, but those are best brewed warm (80+ degrees) and I will let the warmth of the summer help me with that. I’ve talked about making an Premium American Lager, too. Despite the fact I really, really dislike almost all commercial examples of that, I want to do it just for the difficulty of it. Honestly, brewing something like that seems *less* insane to me than the Coconut Curry Hefe.

Welcome to my world.